Utah Firing Squad Executes Inmate
No reprieve for Ronnie Lee Gardner
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2010 2:56 AM CDT
Updated Jun 18, 2010 7:14 AM CDT

(Newser) – Ronnie Lee Gardner became the first American executed by firing squad in the 21st century at just after midnight in a Utah prison. The convicted killer was strapped into a chair and five police marksmen fired at a target on his chest, AP reports. One gun was loaded with an "ineffective" round—which gives the same recoil as a live round—so none of the volunteers knew who fired the fatal shot.

Gardner—who chose the firing squad over lethal injection—fought until the end to stop the execution, even setting up an interview with Larry King Live for Wednesday night, which authorities canceled minutes before it was to take place. His family members joined a vigil outside the prison but, at his request, none were present at the execution. "He didn't want nobody to see him get shot," his brother said.